If history has one central lesson for neoliberalism, is that world orders have a way of collapsing into entropy.
I grew up in an era – the post-Cold War period beginning in the early 90s following the Soviet implosion — in which international free trade with America as the unipolar hegemon was a given. The great convergence of the world into a single harmonious, well-oiled economic machine of production and consumption was inevitable. Utopia, or the closest thing to it on Earth, would spontaneously manifest in an upward spiral of ever-increasing efficiency and peace and perfection.
A new age of perpetual progress had been born. War, it was promised, would soon be rendered obsolete. The international market would allocate resources, and the nations of the world would accept the terms out of fidelity to the mutually beneficial liberal world order.
Political scientist Francis Fukuyama declared it the “end of history“:
What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such.
But it appears the neoliberal order may be more analogous to the Titanic than to the Final Solution, as it were.
The reason that places like Hungary and Russia and Brazil and Iran, among others, receive such brutal and consistent abuse in the corporate media is because they have departed the reservation.
Biden’s handlers, on the rare occasion they release him to the public eye, are careful to frame the Slavic-on-Slavic war in Eastern Europe as an “existential fight for democracy” or in similarly hyperbolic terms.
Britain struck another blow when it left the European Union. Trump threatened to exit NATO — after all, what American interests are served by waging a new Cold War with Russia, the very one that at least partially instigated the current crisis in Ukraine for which the American taxpayers are on the hook to the tune of dozens of billions of dollars and counting.
And on the culture war front — U.S. corporate soft power being garnered by its exportation of American pop culture — the ruling elite have already begun to lose. As they push various Social Justice™ agendas full-force down the throats of both Americans and non-Westerners in the new form of neoliberal colonialism, power slips through their fingers like sand.
The only thing they have left is the institutions of formal control that they use as the mechanisms of their pernicious tyranny — institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank and the Bill Gates- and CCP-funded World Health Organization that exert political control above and beyond the nation-state.
But these levers of control are dressed up in the language of Democracy™ and Diversity™ and Tolerance™ that neoliberal church members have been conditioned to reflexively worship — terms stripped of all meaning except as a signifier of what team one is on and, by extension, their moral worth.
Splintering and balkanization seem inevitable at this point. Even the most ardent American allies and stalwarts of neoliberal globalization like Germany have begun to waiver in their commitment to the cause — particularly as they experience diminishing returns.